Alexi Makris | Teach First

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Alexi Makris

  • Studied: Experimental Psychology, University of Bristol
  • Taught: Maths, London
  • Now: Education Associate, Enabling Enterprise

I worked for an investment bank after university but I found it hard to engage with. I left after a year and did a Masters in International Development. I worked for a charity in a very hands-on role and then decided I wanted to do something where I could see the impact and the benefit of what I was doing. My sister had done Teach First but what really drove me to it was knowing I could develop some real, tangible skills that I could apply to work beyond teaching.

For me to be engaged with a job every day I need to buy into it on a level that’s more than just academic. Teaching gives you the opportunity to feel really proud of what you have done at the end of the day; that what you have done matters. Teaching is the most varied job you could have. I love the relationships you can build with students and the way that they respond, are grateful, and buy into the idea of developing their own learning. You can see the penny begin to drop and them learning on their own.

Teaching is fun but it’s also incredibly hard, the hardest thing I’ve ever done. You’re engaging with 30 or so kids on a personal level and you can’t help but care about what’s going on. So when things aren’t going well it affects you deeply because you have a personal take on it. But the flip side of that is an amazing feeling.

One highlight was when my GCSE class all achieved their grades, but I’m also really proud of a student who everyone had warned me about but by the end of my two years we had the most amazing working relationship, he told me he really respected me. He really listened to me and started doing really well in lessons and caring about maths and his grades and by the end he was one of the star performers in my class. The change in him was symbolic of what happened on a smaller scale with lots of students.

Teach First provided such a variety of support, including my tutor, my coach – someone outside of the school that could add an extra perspective which helped me keep focused – and sessions such as career development training which is fantastic. The most useful thing about the workshops and sessions on the Leadership Development Programme is that it feels like therapy – everyone is in the same position and understands how hard it is. It was a chance to get your head out of your hard week and realise that yes it’s tough but we’re all going through it together.

I now work with a Social Enterprise that works with schools nationally to help students develop employability skills using links to business. We do a lot of work with Teach First schools and partner with a lot of events. I would never have considered a job like this without having done the Leadership Development Programme. If you’re thinking about it, it probably means it’s a good thing for you do to. The process you go through will open so many doors and give you so many skills that you’ll be much more successful.